System And Method For Providing Host Geographic Location Information In A Packet Data Network - Patent 6975619 by Patents-47

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United States Patent: 6975619


































 
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	United States Patent 
	6,975,619



 Byers
,   et al.

 
December 13, 2005




 System and method for providing host geographic location information in a
     packet data network



Abstract

A geographic location identification system and method for a packet data
     network is disclosed wherein geographic location information is
     provisioned or derived at nodes that comprise the network. Upon a request
     from a requesting node, the geographic location information of one or more
     target nodes is provided to the requesting node. The target nodes may be
     user access nodes and/or network routing nodes.


 
Inventors: 
 Byers; Charles Calvin (Aurora, IL), Dunn; James Patrick (Northville Township, Lasalle County, IL) 
 Assignee:


Lucent Technologies Inc.
 (Murray Hill, 
NJ)





Appl. No.:
                    
 09/528,572
  
Filed:
                      
  March 20, 2000





  
Current U.S. Class:
  370/351  ; 370/352; 370/400
  
Current International Class: 
  H04L 012/28&nbsp()
  
Field of Search: 
  
  
















 370/352-356,328,465,320,312,351,254,400,401,310,338,349,389,392 455/445,422,456
  

References Cited  [Referenced By]
U.S. Patent Documents
 
 
 
5659544
August 1997
La Porta et al.

5727057
March 1998
Emery et al.

5845203
December 1998
LaDue

6081715
June 2000
La Porta et al.

6185427
February 2001
Krasner et al.

6359880
March 2002
Curry et al.

6366568
April 2002
Bolgiano et al.

6501767
December 2002
Inoue et al.

6636502
October 2003
Lager et al.

6838998
January 2005
Brown et al.

2002/0131393
September 2002
Baldridge

2002/0171581
November 2002
Sheynblat et al.



   Primary Examiner:  Patel; Ajit



Claims  

What is claimed is:

1.  A packet data network geographic location identification method, comprising the steps of: generating a request for geographic location information at a requesting node that
is adapted to consume said geographic location information;  sending said request to a target node that provisions or derives node geographic location information about itself;  providing said node geographic location information to said requesting node; said request being sent to said target node through one or more intermediate routing nodes that provision or derive node geographic location information about themselves;  and said intermediate routing nodes providing their geographic location
information to said requesting mode.


2.  A method in accordance with claim 1 wherein said requesting node implements a packet telephony server that uses said geographic location information to identify the geographic location of a calling party served by said target node.


3.  A method in accordance with claim 2 wherein said packet telephony server is an emergency response telephony server.


4.  A method in accordance with claim 1 wherein said requesting node implements an authentication server that uses said geographic location information to verify identification information of an entity served by said target node.


5.  A method in accordance with claim 4 wherein said authentication server is part of an online merchandising system.


6.  A method in accordance with claim 4 wherein said authentication server is part of an online electronic voting system.


7.  A method in accordance with claim 1 wherein said requesting node implements a network management server that uses said geographic location information to generate a network topology map showing the geographic location said target node.


8.  A method in accordance with claim 1 wherein said target node is a user access node.


9.  A method in accordance with claim 1 wherein said target node is a network routing node.


10.  A method in accordance with claim 1 wherein said geographic location information includes latitude, longitude and altitude.


11.  A method in accordance with claim 1 wherein said geographic location information includes Country, State, City, Street, and Floor or Suite information.


12.  A method in accordance with claim 1 wherein said generating and sending steps include generating and sending traceback packets to said target node by way of said intermediate routing nodes that provision or derive geographic location
information about themselves.


13.  A method in accordance with claim 12 wherein said providing step includes sending response packets containing said geographic location information about said target node and said intermediate routing nodes in response to said traceback
packets.


14.  A packet data network geographic location identification system, comprising: means in a requesting node for generating a request for geographic location information;  means in said requesting node for sending said request to a target node
that provisions or derives node geographic location information about itself;  means in said target node for providing said node geographic location information to said requesting node;  means in said requesting node for consuming said node geographic
information;  said sending means being adapted to send said request to said target node through one or more intermediate routing nodes that provision or derive node geographic location information about themselves;  and said system including means in
said intermediate routing nodes for providing their geographic location information to said requesting node.


15.  A system in accordance with claim 14 wherein said requesting node implements a packet telephony server that uses said geographic location information to identify the geographic location of a calling party served by said target node.


16.  A system in accordance with claim 15 wherein said packet telephony server is an emergency response telephony server.


17.  A system in accordance with claim 14 wherein said requesting node implements an authentication server that uses said geographic location information to verify identification information of an entity served by said target node.


18.  A system in accordance with claim 17 wherein said authentication server is part of an online merchandising system.


19.  A system in accordance with claim 18 wherein said authentication server is part of an online electronic voting system.


20.  A system in accordance with claim 14 wherein said requesting node implements a network management server that uses said geographic location information to generate a network topology map showing the geographic location said target node.


21.  A system in accordance with claim 14 wherein said target node is a user access node.


22.  A system in accordance with claim 14 wherein said target node is a network routing node.


23.  A system in accordance with claim 14 wherein said geographic location information includes latitude, longitude and altitude.


24.  A system in accordance with claim 14 wherein said geographic location information includes Country, State;  City, Street, and Floor or Suite information.


25.  A system in accordance with claim 14 wherein said generating means and said sending means respectively generate and send traceback packets to said target node by way of said intermediate routing nodes that provision or derive geographic
location information about themselves.


26.  A system in accordance with claim 25 wherein said providing means sends response packets containing said geographic location information about said target node and said intermediate routing nodes in response to said traceback packets.


27.  In a packet telephony network, a method for providing caller geographic location identification service, comprising the steps of: provisioning or deriving geographic location information at network nodes that comprise the packet telephony
network such that each network node provisions or derives geographic location information about itself;  providing said geographic location information to a requesting node in said packet telephony network;  processing said geographic location
information at said requesting node to determine the geographic location of a node to be located in said packet telephony network;  and said requesting node serving a called party in a packet telephony session and said node to be located serving a
calling party in said packet telephony session.


28.  A method in accordance with claim 27 wherein said requesting node implements an emergency response server.


29.  In a packet data network, a method for authenticating identification information provided by remote entity, comprising the steps of: provisioning or deriving geographic location information at network nodes that comprise the packet data
network such that each network node provisions or derives geographic location information about itself;  providing said geographic location information to a requesting node in said packet data network;  processing said geographic location information at
said requesting node to determine the geographic location of a node to be located in said packet data network;  and said requesting node serving on authenticating entity in a packet data session and said node to he located serving un information
providing entity in said packet data session.


30.  A method in accordance with claim 29 wherein said authentication server is part of an online merchandising system.


31.  A method to accordance with claim 29 wherein said authentication server is part of an online electronic voting system.


32.  In a packet data network, a method for managing said network, comprising the steps of: provisioning or deriving geographic location information at network nodes that comprise the packet data network such that each network node provisions or
derives geographic location information about itself;  providing said geographic location information to a requesting node in said packet data network;  processing said geographic location information at said requesting node to determine the geographic
location of nodes to be located in said packet data network;  and said requesting node serving a network management entity.


33.  A method in accordance with claim 29 wherein said processing step includes generating a network topology map.  Description  

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS


Not Applicable


STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT


Not Applicable


BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


1.  Field of the Invention


This invention relates to packet data networks.  More particularly, the invention concerns the determination of network node geographic location information by an inquiring network device.


2.  Description of the Prior Art


In a conventional circuit switched network, such as the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), identification systems are in place that provide caller geographic location information to called parties.  This service has a variety of uses.  For
example, when a caller dials the "911" emergency response number, automatic provision of the caller's geographic location allows the emergency response center to provide lifeline service in the event that the caller is unable to speak or becomes
incapacitated prior to verbally describing their location.  It also improves emergency vehicle navigation and response time.


With packet data networks now being used for voice telephony applications, it would be desirable to implement a caller location feature that advises a called party of a calling party's geographic location in the network.  In addition to voice
telephony applications, geographic location information could be used to advantage by network authentication servers to verify the identity of transacting parties.  Network management servers could also use geographic location information to develop
network topology maps that provide a visual representation of network resources.  At present there is no known system for acquiring geographic location information relative to communicating nodes in a packet data network.


SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION


The foregoing problems are solved and an advance in the art is obtained by a novel host geographic location identification system and method for packet data networks.  In accordance with the disclosed system and method, host geographic location
information is provisioned at, or can be derived by, network nodes that comprise the packet data network.  More particularly, each network node stores, or has the ability to determine (e.g., using a GPS (Global Positioning System) device), its own
geographic location information.  In response to a request from a requesting node in the packet data network, the geographic location information of a target node is provided to the requesting node.  A software application operating at the requesting
node can then process the geographic location information to perform higher level functions.


In one exemplary embodiment of the invention, the requesting node serves a called party in a packet telephony session and the target node serves the calling party.  The requesting node implements an emergency response telephony server application
that uses the geographic location information to locate the calling party.  In another exemplary embodiment of the invention, the requesting node implements a data network authentication server and the target node is a network host operated by an entity
providing identification information to the authentication server.  The geographic location information is used to verify the identification information.  In still another exemplary embodiment of the invention, the requesting node implements a data
network management server and the target node is one of multiple nodes in the network.  The network management server uses the geographic location information to develop a network topology map that can be used for network load balancing or the like.


The network nodes from which geographic location information is obtained may include network routing nodes and user access nodes.  The geographic location information may include latitude, longitude and altitude.  Alternatively, or additionally,
the geographic location information may include address information, including if necessary, floor and suite information.  Each network node in a routing pathway between a requesting node and a target node can also provide geographic location information
to the requesting node.  This can act as a check on the validity of geographic location information provided by the target node in order to prevent spoofing and the like.


Several mechanisms can be employed to obtain geographic location information from the target node.  In a preferred implementation, the requesting node sends traceback packets designed to elicit geographic location information from the target node
and from each network node in the routing pathway between these two end points.  The geographic location information is provided in response packets sent back to the requesting node.  If the invention is implemented in an IP (Internet Protocol) network,
the traceback packets could be implemented as network layer traceroute packets by extending the ICMP (Internet Message Control Protocol) to provide for the incorporation of geographic location information fields in ICMP response packets.  If the
geographic location information of intermediate network nodes is not required, a modification of the ICMP echo request ("ping") protocol could be used in which the ICMP protocol is extended to provide for the incorporation of geographic location
information fields in ICMP echo response packets.


If the invention is implemented in an ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) network, the traceback packets could be implemented as link layer traceback packets by extending the ATM messaging protocol to include the incorporation of geographic location
information fields in VP (Virtual Path)/VC (Virtual Connection) setup messages, traffic management messages, or the like.  If the invention is implemented in an Ethernet network, the traceback packets could be implemented as link layer traceback packets
by extending the MAC (Media Access Control) Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) to include the incorporation of geographic location information fields in ARP response packets.  In still another implementation, the target node may have a dial-up connection
to the packet data network via a local telephone network and a Remote Access Server (RAS).  In that case, geographic location information maintained by the telephone network could be provided to a requesting node in the packet data network via the RAS.


BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING


The foregoing and other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following more particular description of preferred embodiments of the invention, as illustrated in the accompanying Drawing, in which:


FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing relevant portions of an exemplary packet data network constructed in accordance with the invention;


FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing a dial-up network node connected through a telephone network and a remote access server to the packet data network of FIG. 1;


FIG. 3 is a block diagram showing a graphical user interface for a high level application utilizing geographic location information at a packet data network-connected emergency response facility;


FIG. 4 is a block diagram showing a graphical user interface for a high level application utilizing geographic location information in a packet data network-connected authentication server; and


FIG. 5 is a block diagram showing a graphical user interface for a high-level application utilizing geographic location information in a packet data network-connected network management server. 

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED
EMBODIMENT


Turning now to the figures, wherein like reference numerals represent like elements in all of the several views, FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary packet data network 2 providing support for packet data communication between network nodes (also
known as "hosts") 4 and 6.  The packet data network 2 could be any conventional packet data network or inter-network, such as a private LAN (Local Area Network) or WAN (Wide Area Network), or the public Internet.


The network node 4 includes a data terminal 8 (such as a personal computer) and an optional telephony device 10.  The network node 6 is similarly configured with a data terminal 12 and an optional telephony device 14.  The data terminals 8 and 12
are both connected to the packet data network 2 using conventional physical and link layer resources, such as Ethernet over copper wire, ATM over fiber optic cabling, xDSL, or the like.  A wireless access network could also be used if either of the
network nodes 4 and 6 is implemented as a mobile network node.


The packet data network 2 is assumed for purposes of illustration to route data traffic using a network layer protocol such as IP and transport layer protocols such as TCP/IP and UDP.  The packet data network 2 includes plural routers 16,
representing routing nodes, that route data packets between the network nodes 4 and 6, which represent user access nodes.  Each router connects to one or more other routers via conventional data links 18.  For convenience, only the routers 16 and the
links 18 that form one exemplary routing pathway between the user access nodes 4 and 6 are illustrated in FIG. 1.  It will be understood, however, that in an actual network, each router 16 would typically connect to other routers along pathways such as
those indicated by the partially shown links 19.


In accordance with the geographic location identification system and method of the invention, geographic location information 20 is provisioned at, or can be derived by, each network node that comprises the packet data network 2.  This includes
the routing nodes 16 and the user access nodes 4 and 6.  To derive geographic location information at a network node in lieu of provisioning such information, a GPS device (not shown) may be used.  This would be especially useful for mobile nodes (e.g.,
cellular telephone data terminals) or portable nodes (e.g., laptop computers) that frequently change their geographic location and point of attachment to the packet data network 2.  The geographic location information 20 identifies the geographic
location of the node at which it is provisioned or derived.  This information may include latitude, longitude and altitude, and/or address information such as Country, State, City, Street and Floor or Suite number.  If the geographic location information
is provisioned, it can be maintained in the usual data store 22 that holds routing tables, host identification tables, and other network-related information 24.


Each node of the packet data network 2 is preferably configured to provide its geographic location information to any other node in the network.  Each node may thus act as a target node relative to a requesting node seeking geographic location
information.  A requesting node is a node running a requesting application that make use of the geographic location information provided by target nodes to perform higher level functions.  Several exemplary requesting applications are described in more
detail below with reference to FIGS. 3, 4 and 5.  To prevent geographic location spoofing by invalid target nodes, non-geographic-location based authentication and encryption protections may be implemented using conventional techniques.  In addition, or
in the alternative, geographic location verification can be performed by eliciting geographic information from intermediate routing nodes between a requesting node and a target node.  This information can be compared against an existing database of
host-to-host geographic location relationships or evaluated dynamically based on host-to-host geographic relationship rules.


A requesting node may send a geographic location information request to a target node in several ways.  For example, the requesting node can send traceback packets designed to elicit response packets containing geographic location information
from the target node.  The traceback packets would also elicit a geographic location response from intermediate routing nodes along the communication path between the requesting node and the target node.  As mentioned above, this would provide a measure
of anti-spoofing protection.  If the invention is implemented in an IP network, the traceback packets could be implemented as network layer traceroute packets by extending the ICMP (Internet Message Control Protocol) to provide for the incorporation of
geographic location information fields in ICMP response packets.  Using conventional traceroute processing, the Time.sub.-- To.sub.-- Live (TTL) fields of successively-sent traceroute packets could be set to elicit an ICMP response from each network node
in the communication path between the requesting node and the target node.  By adding geographic location information fields to the ICMP packets sent in response to a TTL timeout condition, the requesting node would obtain the desired geographic location
information from each node's ICMP response.


If the geographic location of intermediate network nodes is not required, the invention could be implemented using a modified version of the ICMP echo.sub.-- request protocol.  According to this option, the requesting node would send ICMP
echo.sub.-- request packets to the target node.  These echo.sub.-- request packets would elicit an ICMP echo.sub.-- response from the target node, prompting it to return an echo.sub.-- response packet.  By extending the ICMP protocol to provide for the
incorporation of geographic location information fields in ICMP echo.sub.-- response packets, the requesting node would obtain the desired geographic location information of the target node from the target node's ICMP response.


In a similar vein, if the invention is implemented in an ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) network, the traceback packets could be implemented as link layer traceback packets by extending the ATM messaging protocol to add geographic location
information fields to selected VP/VC (Virtual Path/Virtual Channel) setup messages, traffic management messages, or the like.  If the invention is implemented in an Ethernet network, the traceback packets could be implemented as link layer traceback
packets by extending the MAC (Media Access Control) Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) to add geographic location information fields to ARP response packets.


In a still further implementation of the invention, shown in FIG. 2, the target node (4) may have a dial-up connection to the packet data network 2 through a local telephone network 30 and a RAS (Remote Access Server) 32.  In that case, the
caller identification information relative to the target node 4 could be provided by the telephone network 30 to the RAS 32, which would store the information in a data store 34 containing geographic location information 36 for multiple dial-up nodes. 
This information would be provided by the RAS 32 in response to a geographic location request sent from a requesting node to the target node.  The response from the RAS 32 could be a supplementation of a geographic location response from the target node,
thus serving to verify the target node response, or the RAS response could be provided in lieu of a response from the target node.  To provide maximum security, a consistency check could be made between the geographic location information 20 provided by
the target node 4, the geographic location information 36 provided by the RAS 32, and the geographic location information provided by the telephone network 30.


FIGS. 3, 4 and 5 illustrate exemplary embodiments of the invention in which the network node 6 is a requesting node running a requesting application.  In FIGS. 3 and 4, the network node 4 is a target node.  In FIG. 4, all of the nodes in the
packet data network 2 are target nodes.


FIG. 3 represents an embodiment of the invention wherein the target node 4 and the requesting node 6 are engaged in a packet telephony communication session.  The data terminal 8 and telephony device 10 serve the calling party and the data
terminal 12 and telephony device 14 serve the called party.  The called party, moreover, is an emergency response center running an emergency response telephony server application 40.  When the calling party initiates the communication session, the
emergency response application 40 causes the data terminal 12 to send a geographic location request to the target node 4.  The data terminal 12 sends the request using one of the methods described above and the data terminal 8 responds accordingly.  The
geographic location information provided in the response is passed to the emergency response application 40, which processes the information and displays it on a graphical user interface 42.  Thus, as the calling party converses with the called party,
the called party can determine the calling party's geographic location from the interface 42, and use it to dispatch an emergency response vehicle.


FIG. 4 represents an embodiment of the invention wherein the target node 4 and the requesting node 6 are engaged in a packet data communication session.  In particular, the data terminal 8 serves an information providing entity, such as an online
purchaser attempting to make an online purchase, and the data terminal 12 serves an authenticating entity, such as an online merchandising system seeking to verify identification information from a purchaser.  Alternatively, the data terminal 8 could
serve an online voter desiring to cast an electronic vote for a political candidate, and the data terminal 12 could serve an online electronic voting system.  In either case, the information providing entity provides identification information to an
authentication server application 50 running on the data terminal 12.  The authentication server application 50 causes the data terminal 12 to send a geographic location request to the target node 4.  The data terminal 12 sends the request using one of
the methods described above and the data terminal 8 responds accordingly.  Preferably, however, in order to minimize the possibility of geographic location spoofing, the traceback method is used so that the geographic location information of intermediate
routing nodes is elicited and appropriately verified.  The geographic location information provided in the response is passed to the authentication server application 50, which processes the information and may also display it on a graphical user
interface 52 (for online purchasing) or a graphical user interface 54 (for online electronic voting), if an employee of the authentication entity is assisting the transaction.  Thus, as the information providing entity communicates the identification
information, it can be verified against the geographic location information provided by the target node 4.


FIG. 5 represents an embodiment of the invention wherein the requesting node 6 queries a group of nodes (including node 4) of the packet data network 2.  The data terminal 12 runs a network manager server application 60 that is used by a network
administrator.  The network manager application implements a graphical user interface 62 that displays network topology information which the network administrator uses to perform network load balancing or make determinations about the deployment of
additional network resources.  To generate the topology graphics, the network manager server application 60 causes the data terminal 12 to send a geographic location request to the appropriate target nodes.  The data terminal 12 sends the request using
one of the methods described above and the target nodes respond accordingly.  The geographic location information provided in the responses is passed to the network management server application 60, which processes the information and displays it on the
graphical user interface 62.  Thus, the network administrator is provided with accurate information about the topology of the packet data network 2.  This can help the network administrator visualize network problems.  By way of example, the geographic
location of a heavily congested link 64 in the packet data network 2 is shown, allowing the network administrator to visually identify hosts that may be affected by the congestion and to select alternate routing pathways.


Accordingly, a packet data network geographic location identification system and method have been described.  While various embodiments have been disclosed, it should be apparent that many variations and alternative embodiments could be
implemented in light of the disclosure herein.  It is understood, therefore, that the invention is not to be in any way limited except in accordance with the spirit of the appended claims and their equivalents.


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